Monday, June 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Two die in poll violence
Many injured in clashes, lathi-charges; 80 pc turnout
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Patti (Amritsar), June 29
Widespread violence marred the panchayat elections in border districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur even as two persons died (one each in Batala and Tarn Taran police districts). A DSP, a Sub-Inspector and an ASI sustained minor injuries at the time of polling in Amritsar district while police had to resort to a mild lathi charge at many places to control the unruly public which had been protesting against deleting of a large number of voters at the behest of the ruling party.

Nearly 80 per cent voter turnout was reported from all over the state.

According to an official spokesman 70 per cent polling was registered while polling in five stations including Jhabal Khurd (Tarn Taran), Isapur (Ajnana block), Athwal (Majitha block), Khassi (Rayya) and Sara village (Tarsikka block) was postponed following violence and other reasons.

A polling agent of the ruling Congress, Mr Channan Singh (65), was killed in the polling booth of Dhariwal village (Patti), when Gurdip Singh, a sarpanch (husband of Ms Sukhraj Kaur, a candidate of sarpanch, belonging to the Akali Dal) opened firing in the polling station itself. It is alleged that Gurdip Singh and his two brothers (close confidants of Mr Adesh Partap Singh, son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal) succeeded in getting the firearms smuggled into the booth. Mr Channan Singh was killed after a long chase. It is learnt that Channan Singh was killed when he raised an objection over an ‘invalid vote’ being cast by the Akali candidates. Another Congress worker Major Singh, who tried to intervene, also sustained bullet injuries. The agitated Congress workers started pelting stones on Akali workers and some of them were badly beaten up. The polling remained suspended for about two hours. It is learnt that seven police personnel on duty, including a Sub-Inspector, were placed under suspension for dereliction of duty. The police have also rounded up two relatives of Gurdip Singh.

In Batala police district one Sucha Singh, a brother of Mr Suba Singh, a candidate of sarpanch, was brutally killed with sharp-edged weapons in Jaura Singh village. The police have registered a case against Lal Singh, Baljit Singh, Tarlok Singh, Gursharan Singh, Sheetal Singh and Bikramjit Singh. The culprits are absconding.

Interestingly, the polling staff and police officials on duty at Bahminiwala village (Patti) were found tipsy.

Violence also marred the Majitha police district. While the uniform of an ASI was torn by some agitated voters in Mainian Kuharana village, some voters pelted stones on the DSP Mr Manminder Singh, and SHO Mr Yadwinder Singh at Ajnala. At least nine persons were injured in the scuffle between the supporters of the candidates for sarpanch at Isapur village. Similarly a dozen supporters of Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a Congress MLA, and Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, a former Chairman of the forest corporation, were injured at Sara village (Beas) where election stood postponed.

Tribune Reporters Add

PATIALA: The polling process was declared null and void at two places in the district even as a Deputy Superintendent of Police was injured in a brick-batting incident in Samana besides a number of clashes taking place all over the district leaving several injured.

District Returning Officer Tejveer Singh put off the poll process in Badal Colony in Rajpura and Hassanpur village in Patiala block. At Badal Colony the process was put off following evidence of booth capturing by supporters of one of the candidates while at Hassanpur village the poll was put off after it was revealed that the presiding officer had distributed the ballot papers to one of the candidates before the start of the election.

At Warachan Patti in Samana division supporters of one of the candidates got unruly and smashed the vehicle of the Station House Officer of Samana. According to sources supporters of candidate Bhagwanti had earlier protested to the Samana Sub-Divisional Magistrate that the police was in league with the other candidate and stamping ballot papers on its own in the booth. Following this a mob collected at the spot and resorted to brickbatting in which DSP, Samana, Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, was injured. An attempt-to-murder case as well as a rioting case has been registered in this regard. Meanwhile irate villagers claimed that the police had resorted to an indiscriminate lathi charge and that two women had been injured besides others. Around 100 persons from the village arrived in a truck to the city and sat outside the Deputy Commissioner’s residence for a few hours demanding repoll in the village which however was not accepted.

Meanwhile reports of alleged rigging were also received from Rakhra village in which a candidate supported by Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra is pitted against Prem Singh Chandumajra supporter Randhir Singh Rakhra’s wife.

Mr Chandumajra met the Deputy Commissioner to complain that a police official was in league with the candidate of Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra. Sub-divisional Magistrate TPS Phoolka rushed to the spot and the concerned police official was removed from the village.

Reports of clashes were also received from Alimajra in Ghanaur block, Urdan and Serai Banjara in Rajpura block, Devigarh and Mallikpur Doondi Majra villages. While a few persons were injured in most of the incidents, in Mallikpur Doondi Majra eight persons were injured in the clash.

JALANDHAR: Nearly 75 per cent of voters today excercised their right to franchise during elections to 695 panchayts in 10 blocks of Jalandhar, even as 10 persons were injured in incidents of violence reported from Kartarpur, Lohian and Nakodar blocks.

The polling remained peaceful barring a few incidents of clashes between rival groups at Kartarpur, Lohian and Nakodar blocks. Six persons were injured at Raheempur village in Kartarpur, when the polling agents belonging to the candidates supported by the Akali Dal and the Congress entered into a brawl over the identity of a voter.

The supporters of both parties, equipped with sharp-edged weapons, who were camping outside the polling booth, attacked each other, injuring six persons. The police swung into action and detained some of them to control the situation. All the injured were admitted to Kartarpur Civil Hospital.

In two separate incidents, three persons were injured in a clash at Chitti village in Nakodar, while one person was injured in Raiwal Bet village in Lohian.

Meanwhile, the response of the voters was overwhelming as 75 percent of the total voters exercised their right to franchise during elections. The young women, who voted for the first time in their life, were seen more enthusiastic about the polls during a round to the various polling stations by the TNS team.

ROPAR: Polling in 13 panchayats have been countermanded in the state due to negligence on the part of the presiding officers. In most of the cases election had to be postponed due to minor errors in the ballot papers. Suitable action will be recommended against the officers responsible for negligence and postponement of panchayat polls.

Mr C.L. Bains, State Election Commissioner, who was in Ropar to oversee the panchayat poll arrangements in the district, said the feedback received from the current panchayat elections had indicated that more time should be given to the district election officers for scrutiny and printing of ballot papers. Due to shortage of time errors in printing of ballot papers. Due to shortage of time errors in printing of ballot papers were found in many areas of the state in these panchayat polls.

In the panchayat polls this time 2134 sarpanches and 11200 panches had been elected unanimously. After the unanimous election of panchayats, elections were held for 10000 panchayats. This time 1.30 crore voters had the right to vote in the panchayat elections compared to 1.07 crore last time.

He confirmed that two persons, including one in Batala area of Gurdaspur district and one in Patti area of Amritsar were killed in the poll violence.

Mr Bains along with the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, visited Kharuan and Rukki Pukhta village to oversee the poll arrangements. In Kharuan village polling agents of a candidate complained against the pressiding officer. They alleged that they were denied entry into the polling booth. In Rukki village voters complained about the shortage of ballot papers. However, none of the complainants submitted their complaint in writing.

FERPOZEPORE: In various incidents of violence and clashes between the workers of the Congress and the Akali Dal, more than 12 persons were reportedly injured. In Manewala village, under Ghal Khurd block, the Akali Dal candidate for the post of Sarpanch, Swarna Rani, was attached by Congress workers at booth No. 93. She, along with another six family members Jeewan Singh, Surjit Singh, Rajinder Singh, Kanwaljit Singh and Dara Singh have been admitted to a private hospital here.

In Faridawala village, two rival groups clashed and firing was reported in which three persons were injured, who have been admitted to Civil Hospital, Ferozepore. The injured are Lakhwinder Singh, Jagtar Singh and Daljit Singh. In Nizamdin village the police had to resort to mild cane-charge to disperse the agitating crowd.

At a few places, the workers of Akali Dal boycotted the poll as they aleged that their polling agents were not allowed to enter the polling stations.

More than eight person were injured during clashes in Khunder Utar village. Some miscreants threw acid in the polling box inside a polling booth in Shermohammed village.


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